I'm sure you remember the story of Cinderella, a young girl who was forced to work as a servant for her stepmother and stepsisters. One day, she met her fairy godmother who transformed her and made her beautiful so she could go to the ball and meet her prince. But it was only temporary—at midnight, real life returned and everything went back to the way it was before.
For so many years, I was Cinderella in my marriage with Libby. Let me explain what I mean.
I was passive in our relationship for much of our marriage. She would always be the one to initiate dates. She was the energy behind our family. And periodically, she'd run out of gas. She would tell me something like, “I just feel like I'm carrying so much of the load.”
So I'd tell her, “You're right. I'm going to do better.” And I would for a while. I took more initiative and had more energy, but then midnight came and I defaulted back to old ways. I call it the “Cinderella merry-go-round.” Maybe you've ridden it before. You try to change, but the change you make is only temporary, and you're soon back to where you started.
So why does that happen? Well, one thing I've learned is that I can't bring about lasting change in my own life. This is where statements like “old habits die hard” come from. Yes, you can change your external behavior for a while, but permanent change is a whole different ball game.
So is all hope really lost for true, authentic life change? Not at all! Let's take a look at what God's Word says in Ezekiel 36:25-27,
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
This is a beautiful promise of a miracle in our lives that can bring about life change. In fact, it's actually a promise of four miracles. Let me show you:
- First, God will make you clean. The stain of sin is no longer present in your life if you're in Christ.
- Then He tells you He'll make you new—give you a spiritual heart transplant. That means change in your life won't be just cleaning up your old rags. It'll be a completely new set of garments!
- He'll make you alive as well. He does this by putting His own Spirit within you, raising you out of spiritual death to experience the Life He has for you.
- And, He makes you eager to obey His commands. He compels you to follow His decrees. Simply put, He changes your “want to” in a way you just can't.
If you talked to Libby today, she would tell you that I'm not passive in our marriage anymore. I'm far from perfect, but God has done a work in my life that's empowered true, authentic change in this area. And it's all because I got off the Cinderella merry-go-round and let Jesus do the work.
Whatever your habits may be that God wants to change, let Him be the one to do it. If it's excessive drinking, give it to Him. Lust or pornography? He'll handle it. True, authentic change takes a miracle—a miracle God is eager to do in your life. Let Him do it—through His Word, through His Spirit, and through His people.